I am sad to report that Nigel Hill, Medical Entomologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine died on the 5th January, 2010. The news is especially distressing given the recent death of Bob Dalgleish. Nigel worked on a wide range of insect pests including head lice. In particular, Nigel lead much of the recent research on the status of insecticide resistance in UK head louse populations. The news was passed on the me through Joanna Ibarra of Community Hygiene Concern who has written the following obituary which I copy here with her permission.
Nigel Hill (1961 – 2010)
With great sorrow we mourn the untimely death of Dr Nigel Hill, head of the Disease Control and Vector Biology Unit, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), on 5 January 2010.
Best known for his outstanding work on “low technology” control methods of the vectors of malaria, phthirapterists will remember him for a key contribution to the study of head lice. In 1998 he undertook to lead a large-scale evaluation of the Bug Buster combing kit as used by families to treat head lice. Supported by LSHTM experts in clinical trial design, Nigel produced the appropriate trial protocol and raised funding to run it from the UK National Lottery Charitable Trust. To date, this trial remains unique among evaluations of products to control head lice because it addressed sustainability over an entire year, in this case of the Bug Busting approach versus formulated treatments, in addition to their initial comparative effectiveness. Most trials do not examine long-term sustainability, and often the end results are measured at two weeks with no further follow-up.
Whatever type of vector control Nigel worked in, mosquitoes, house dust mites or head lice, his work was distinguished by a concern to identify health protection measures which are accessible to the whole community at risk. He was an advocate of integrated pest control, judging the full range of chemical and physical methods on their respective merits with an open mind. Regarding head lice, he considered that rapid and accurate detection constitute an underlying principle of effective control and found that Bug Busting wet combing is an ideal way for parents to diagnose lice, monitor the effectiveness of formulated treatments and, when applied systematically, an acceptable, cost-effective treatment.
Warm-hearted and generous by nature, Nigel maintained a high regard for scientific rigour and had a great gift for teaching. He will be sorely missed by his students, colleagues and the communities where his work has made a lasting contribution to health and well-being.
Joanna Ibarra and Clarice Wickenden (Community Hygiene Concern)